So you’re here for the Keystone Games. Congratulation, and welcome to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
But, when you’re not competing, what is there to do in the area? Thankfully, the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau is here to answer that question.
According to Janet Hall, executive director for the bureau, athletes will be coming to the area at the “perfect time of year.”
“There’s a lot going on this time of year,” Hall said.
For those looking for a way to start the fun, Hall said the best place to go is the bureau’s website, www.visitluzernecounty.com.
Hall acknowledges that the internet has changed the way people find what they do, but she said visitors bureaus still have a place in the modern landscape.
“Nowadays people can find what they want online, but they need a little help with those hidden gems,” Hall said.
From hiking to rafting, from waterparks to wineries, Hall said this area has plenty of those hidden gems to offer to those who are discovering it for the first time, and for those who have always been here.
According to Hall, Luzerne County is the home to many parks, trails and hiking locations — all perfect recreation for sporting folks.
“Athletes who like to stay in shape will probably like these,” Hall said.
A quick overview of the bureau’s website shows more than a hundred miles of hiking trails, with varying difficulty levels that can entertain everyone from the hiking newbie to the weathered veteran.
Here’s a small selection of the trails available for use in the county:
• The D & L, or Delaware and Lehigh, Trail is the longest in the state, stretching for more than 160 miles from outside Philadelphia to the Wilkes-Barre area. Here in Luzerne County, the trail extends from the White Haven area to Mountain Top with some limited interruptions, and there is currently a plan to link the trail from Mountain Top to the Seven Tubs in Wilkes-Barre.
• The Seven Tubs, located off Route 115 in Wilkes-Barre, is a roughly two-mile long hiking trail. Over the millennia, flowing water has carved out a series of tubs, which the visitors bureau says makes for both great hiking and photo opportunities.
• Alongside the Susquehanna River, the outdoorsy types can find something to love on both banks in the area of downtown Wilkes-Barre. On one side of the river, you can take a leisurely stroll through the River Common park, which is located directly off River Street in the area of the Luzerne County Courthouse. Offering scenic views of the river, the park also plays host to numerous festivals throughout the year. In addition, on the other side of the river, you can access the Luzerne County Levee Trail, a 12-mile stretch that extends along the river. Perfect for walking, biking and even fishing, the trail brings an interesting blend of urban and natural views.
Food and drink
Like many areas, ours is home to numerous bars, restaurants and markets where you can get almost any kind of food you can think of.
• For those who are of age, Hall said the visitors bureau has compiled a list of local wineries, breweries and distilleries. The list can be found at the visitors bureau’s website, and Hall says it has as many as 11 different places to go to enjoy adult beverages made on site. Hall said many of these locations offer tours and tastings which can be enjoyed at little to no cost, and a brochure on the website spotlights each one, in case you want to go on a crawl of your own — with a designated driver, of course.
• And for those who aren’t of age, or who have some kids to keep happy too, Hall said there’s a similar list on the website spotlighting some of the best places to get ice cream around the county. Recommendations also abound for places to stop for a bite to eat all around the county.
• Numerous municipalities host farmers’ markets held weekly throughout the county. A full schedule can be found on the website, but markets can be found on different days in Avoca, Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Freeland and in the Back Mountain area. These markets can be ideal for athletes looking to keep up their healthy diets while on the road.
Hall said there are plenty of ways the family can have fun together while here. For those seeking adventure, she said there’s whitewater rafting, which the brave can take on either in Weatherly or Jim Thorpe.
While this is a distance from the county, Hall said the visitors bureau tries to “sell the whole area,” instead of limiting its recommendations to the bounds of the county.
Those looking for perhaps less exhilarating but still unique adventures can check out Pittston’s trampoline park, Sky Zone, ice skating at the Toyota SportsPlex in Wilkes-Barre, the Montage Mountain Water Park in Moosic, or even rock climbing at the Wilkes-Barre Rock Climbing Gym.
While the recommendations on the website are too numerous to list in full, Hall said the best way to plan your visit to the county is to check out the website, or to go directly to the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 56 Public Square, where brochures are available to spotlight the region.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan